Agenda item

Tackling Racism In Schools

This report follows previous discussions held at Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the issue of tackling racism. The scope of the report aims to provide information and updates from various services and teams within Education and SEND on how they are tackling issues of racism, promoting diversity and/or addressing equality.




The Head of Service, Education introduced the report which provided information and updates from various services and teams within Education and SEND on how they were tackling issues of racism, promoting diversity and/or addressing equality.

Members then raised a number of comments and questions which included:

Tackling instances of racism - it was asked how schools were dealing with this issue and the lack of expertise in training on issues such as unconscious bias which was a concern. The Head of Service, Education said the report briefly touched on exclusion data for permanent exclusion due to racial instances on the request from the prevent group on how to identify racial incidences in schools. There was no requirement for schools to inform the Local Authority of incidences of racial instances within their schools as it was not a statutory obligation, but schools were asked for feedback on how Medway Council could support them in reporting incidences and the department was exploring how to widen schools’ knowledge on this issue as well as unconscious bias.

Incidences of racial abuse- it was asked how many schools were sending back information regarding issues of racial incidences and it was important to raise awareness that abuse can and does extend beyond the school environment. Due to the increase of use of social media, abuse had now extended online. The Head of Service, Education said that since 2017, there had been three permanent exclusions as a result of racial incidences. Medway Council officers worked closely with prevent officers who were able to respond to any issues and incidences, including cyber bullying. The Public Health team worked in partnership to raise awareness and the Communications team included in their regular headteachers bulletin on how and where to access support.

False accusations - it was asked how false accusations of racial abuse were being managed. The Head of Service, Education highlighted the importance of robust investigations in all incidences reported. It was vital that schools deployed the same level of robustness as in its safeguarding investigation processes as it did in handling reported issues of racial abuse complaints.

English as second language and Special Education Needs - a Member said that it had been brought to attention by families where some schools were making an unfounded link between children with English as their second language and special educational needs which meant parents were reluctant to complete forms to state that English was not their first language. The Head of Service, Education expressed disappointment that this link was being made by some schools and stressed that having English as a second language did not equate to having a special educational need, this had also been made clear by the regional schools’ service.

It was commented that provision of education and training for all was instrumental in understanding issues that were experienced by all ethnic groups and by promoting inclusion and diversity, schools and educational establishments could begin to tackle issues of racism.

Members agreed on the significance of all young people to be encouraged to report any instances of racial incidence experienced without fear of reprisal and being assured that the incident would be thoroughly investigated.


The Committee noted the report.


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